Day 12 Devotional & Discussion – March 18, 2014

Genesis 39:1-23

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and he ended up in Egypt in the house of Potiphar.  However, when Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape he was placed in prison—wrongly convicted.  It is interesting that Potiphar’s wife pointed to Joseph’s ethnicity twice in her accusation.  Why do you think she did that?  Who would be more likely believed—the wife of one of Pharoah’s military officers, or the Hebrew slave?  What power did Joseph have within the justice system of Egypt?

Who in our day are most likely to have experiences similar to Joseph?  Though God was with Joseph throughout his experience and ultimately used it for good, no one should be falsely accused and wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.

Link HERE  to read the full story of Maurice Patterson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 2002.  The proof of Mr. Patterson’s innocence was always available, but no one bothered to place it into evidence—including Mr. Patterson’s court-appointed lawyer.  Mr. Patterson was finally released from prison in 2010, having served 6 years for a crime he did not commit.   What factors do you think led to Mr. Patterson’s wrongful conviction?



  1. The past two Fridays, I have gone to the Broadview Detention Center to participate in a prayer vigil for comprehensive immigration reform and for those who are being swept into the dragnet of ICE and deported. Undocumented immigrants live in constant fear of being discovered. Every time they leave their home, they are at risk. Forget to use a turn signal…. Get into a minor fender bender…. Be at the wrong place at the wrong time…. Be nervous around the wrong people…. Speak Spanish…. Many of my Latino acquaintances who are citizens of the US also feel at risk because they are viewed suspiciously by others due to their last name or their accent. When you are assumed to be guilty, it is not long before you are found guilty.

  2. I really appreciate how you point out Potiphar’s wife’s reference to Joseph’s ethnicity. I can’t say that ever stuck out to me in a significant way. As I read her using those terms, I think I subconsciously take it as a method she was employing to distance herself from him. My study notes mention Genesis 14:13 where Abram is called “the Hebrew”. There the notes say Abram was the first biblical character to be called a Hebrew: “Usually an ethnic term in the Bible, it was normally used by non-Israelites in a disparaging sense” and the notes then refer to Potiphar’s wife’s use of the term. Very interesting and sad.

    This kind of profiling can happen to any minority. In Lancaster it happens to our many religious minorities, particularly thinking about the plain peoples. “All _______ are ______.” For example, Amish have a reputation for being tight with their money, uncaring landlords, and doing shoddy work on homes.

    I wonder if the Hebrews were considered less ethical by nature, similar to situations with the Cretans in Titus? Our country definitely has a history of this kind of moral stereotyping. Those of a certain ethnicity are deemed less ethical, prone to crime, not trustworthy. I think we need to do battle deep within our hearts and minds to rid ourselves of thoughts that would give in to racial profiling. All people are created in God’s image and equally loved. We need to start from his point of view. But I don’t think it should stay internal.

    1. Thanks for pointing out that the word “Hebrew” was an ethnic slur. Not only is Joseph a slave–he is also a hated minority. Calling someone a pejorative name is about asserting domination over the person. Naming a whole sub-group is about subjugation–a constant reminder of one’s place beneath the majority. I was also going to make a comment about Maurice Patterson and the factors surrounding his wrongful conviction. There is often a great deal of pressure placed on the police to solve the crime that thorough investigation takes a back seat. But I find the State’s Attorney’s office to be guilty of the greater sin since they knew the DNA evidence didn’t match. In addition, those who are poor do not have a chance in our system having to depend on Public Defenders to help them navigate the system. We put most of our money into law enforcement and prosecution and little toward helping the poor defend themselves. Here’s a link to an article about Public Defenders. Fascinating graphics and statistics.

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